Sometimes in the music world, entertainers reappear with some type of scandal or drama after having faded into obscurity. Soon after that, we learn that the entertainer has a new song or album to promote. It’s a well-used tactic: get their name back in the headlines, have people talking about them again (good or bad) and then drop a track. We fall for it almost every time.
When I saw Bill Cosby’s name recently in the news, I suspected that something similar might be going on. Sure enough, in the past few weeks his daughters Errin and Ensa have been talking up how wonderful their father is and the fact that he is a beacon of light for the world. Or something.
Cosby just completed his first public interview in two years. Coincidentally I’m sure, Cosby’s criminal trial starts in less than a month for allegedly assaulting a woman in 2004. Jury selection for this trial is scheduled to start next week. Right on cue.
It is my guess that we will see Cosby and/or his daughters in the media much more in the next month leading up to the trial. It’s an obvious public relations ploy to garner sympathy for the once beloved father figure who has been accused of sexually assaulting at least 55 women over a span of decades.
Noticeably, we don’t see Cosby’s wife Camille doing the media circuit. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about that. Cosby has also stated that he is now legally blind and argues in at least one case against him that he shouldn’t have to stand trial because he wouldn’t be able to confront his accuser.
In a recent interview, Cosby stated that he believes that racism is playing a part in the allegations against him. It’s not clear who he is alleging is racist, since his female accusers are both Black and white and perhaps other races as well. This charge has fueled conspiracy theorists who have revived the tired claim that it is “the white man” who is trying to keep Cosby down. To support this specious claim, theorists suggest that Cosby was about to buy NBC and, because those in control didn’t want to see a Black man in power, women were paid to allege false claims against Cosby.
One of the many problems with this theory is that Cosby was attempting to purchase NBC in 1993. You know, back when Cosby had just ended a long run with The Cosby Show and A Different World and still had significant standing in the industry. So even if you believe that theory, it does not explain the allegations of sexual assault in the past twenty years since his failed network bid, including the one for which he will stand trial next month.
Perhaps Cosby is claiming that systemic racism is attempting to bring him down. This is curious since Cosby is well-known for his respectability politics, especially the Pound Cake speech he gave in May 2004. In it, Cosby famously intimated that if young Black men would just pull up their sagging pants and if parents without values would stop naming their daughters Shaniqua, they can get ahead as he did.
Perhaps racism only exists when it’s convenient for Cosby. OJ Simpson attempted something similar during his trial for the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. Once he garnered fame and wealth, OJ attempted to distance himself from his Blackness as much as he could, until it was convenient for him to claim that he was the victim of racism. We will see if this tactic works for Cosby.
This is not to say that there isn’t systemic injustice in the law enforcement system, including in the courts. We have seen too many white officers who have killed Black men and women who walk away without being charged, indicted, or convicted to think otherwise. But Cosby hasn’t been a full participant in the court system yet, so charges of racism by the courts may be premature.
But that hasn’t stopped at least one daughter from saying that Cosby is being “publicly lynched” in the media, which has clear racist overtones. Presumably she means by the “court of public opinion,” but the information that we have to date is damning.
There is a double standard with respect to how men of color and white men are treated in the justice system, especially with respect to issues of violence. But the double standard does not mean that the acts did not occur. Cosby is fortunate that he has the resources to hire the very best legal team that money can buy. Many are not as fortunate.
Cosby has announced that while he will be present in the courtroom during the trial, he does not plan to testify. It’s an interesting move by his legal team. Perhaps they’re more interested in Cosby looking sympathetic rather than getting on the stand and saying the wrong thing and opening the door to other allegations.
I believe the women that have accused Bill Cosby of assault. I believe them even though he has not stood trial. Their stories are too consistent. It does not appear that any of the women have somehow benefited with either money or publicity by making these claims, as is often claimed by rape apologists. Cosby himself admitted during his deposition under oath that he drugged women in order to have sex with them. It is an easy call for me.
I also don’t think that one can arbitrarily put their faith in the justice system when it suits them. In other words, if you believe that justice was denied regarding the deaths of Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Mike Brown, and so many others, how can you now say that we should await the result of the Cosby criminal trial and “let the system work?” If the system is broken, and I believe that it is, it is broken for everyone, including those we may hold in high esteem.